News: Frustrated punters propose wagering boycott for today

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Updated: February 16, 2016

Welcome to The Outside Word, where we examine news and issues relating to the wagering industry featured in the mainstream media, along with goings-on in the local and international racing and sports betting world.

 

Stress

It’s taken a while to gather momentum, but news of tomorrow’s (Wednesday’s) proposed ‘punters’ strike’ is starting to spread into the mainstream media. The frustration of Australian racing punters manifested on a site called punters.com.au, with the main protagonists claiming via a forum post that they’ve been disrespected by authorities and bookies for far too long.

Among the key concerns posted on a thread that now numbers more than 200 comments include minimum bet guarantees from corporate bookmakers and what they perceive to be a lack of consultation with punters from Racing Victoria and Racing NSW. Forum poster GUV believes punters deserve a fairer go with the corporate bookmakers and greater respect from the leading racing bodies.

“RVL and Racing NSW to stop ignoring punters (your customers) and start listening to all their concerns instead of pandering to TAB, breeders, vested interests and vocal lobby groups,” he wrote. “Make the spineless corporates accept all bets to at least $2500 … instead of banning and restricting punters and concentrating on leeching off problem gamblers. This industry is a laughing stock because it promotes gambling but is scared of winners!”

These disenfranchised punters have gone as far to suggest that they need a voice and deserve industry representation with a potential list of claims to include – other states to match NSW rules regarding minimum bets; more transparency on horses receiving treatment; all horses to have a public trial before racing; and any change of tactics to be notified before 10am on raceday.

 

The list of demands being made by a group of punters via a local racing forum

The list of demands being made by a group of punters via a local racing forum

Race scheduling is another source of discontent, with clashes between metropolitan races in Victoria and NSW the main cause of consternation. RVL’s trial of 30-minute gaps between races highlighted once again the inability, or unwillingness, of Australia’s two major racing jurisdictions to work together in unison. Last Saturday, the feature race in Melbourne (the Orr Stakes) was run barely two minutes after Winx had crossed the line in Sydney’s Apollo Stakes.

The website of betting exchange Betfair will be down tomorrow (Wednesday) while maintenance is carried out, which impact wagering. As The Australian’s Brendan Cormick pointed out, “many punters, especially in the medium to large range, follow Betfair for trends as do bookmakers. With the site down, there will be some punters inactive for that reason, which may skew the boycott picture.”

Racing Victoria has undertaken the 30-minute gap trial to shorten race days and speed up the entertainment on the track. It is hoped the figures reflect improved attendance while not having a negative impact on betting turnover. Tabcorp reported yesterday that tote and fixed-odds betting turnover combined was down 5.2 per cent on the corresponding meeting last year. Other racing product on the day was down 3.8 per cent, the total drop in the day being 4.3 per cent.

Owners noted they had less time in the winners’ bar to celebrate a victory and watch re-runs of their horse winning while trainers have had to hustle to saddle their runners and present them in the mounting yard. The reaction from jockeys is that with stewards’ inquiries and weighing out there has been less time to regroup and to collect their thoughts before their next ride, if booked for consecutive races. One jockey claimed he had time for one cigarette instead of two!

For the record, The Inside Word supports the creation of a ‘punters’ lobbying group’ to communicate concerns to racing authorities and gambling jurisdictions. A boycott from a group of punters on a forum won’t achieve much but hopefully it gains enough media attention to communicate the level of discontent among Australian punters. But the corporate bookmakers, local TABs and racing bodies should heed the warning – if one day every punter failed to turn up at the betting window, the industry would be in a world of hurt.

 

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